The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to interfere in the violence at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMU) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the anti-Citizenship Act protests and asked the petitioners to approach the high courts of the respective states. The apex court gave the direction to the petitioners during a hearing on the pleas seeking action against the police for beating up the students on December 15.
The court directed that the concerned High Courts will be at liberty to appoint former judges of either Supreme Court or High Court for the purpose of the inquiry. It also added that having regard to the nature of the matter and the vast disputed area, we find it would not be feasible to appoint a single committee to go into the matter in different states. This will entail the collection of evidence from various states.
The apex court said, "We do not have to intervene. It is a law and order problem. How did the buses burn? Why don’t you approach jurisdictional High Court? The concerned High Courts will be at liberty to appoint former judges of Supreme Court or High Court for the purpose of inquiry after hearing Centre and the respective States. Having regard to the nature of the matter & the vast disputed area, we find it would not be feasible to appoint a single committee to go into the matter in different states. This will entail the collection of evidence from various states."
Earlier, Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde had categorically told the petitioners, lawyers Indira Jaising and Colin Gonsalves, that the matter will be heard only when the violent protests will stop and the issue would not escalate further. When the SC refused to hear the matter saying, "Let all this stop and then only we will hear," Indira Jaising had said: "We are here to request on violence unleashed all over the country. This kind of violence...Supreme Court must take suo motu. It is a serious human rights violation."
In a terse remark, the CJI said, "We can't be bullied like this. Just because someone is being asked to leave the campus etc..Public properties are being destroyed, buses being burnt..this must stop," adding "Just because they happen to be students, it doesn't mean they can take law and order in their hands, this has to be decided when things cool down."
The Chief Justice had also said, "We don't want to be held at ransom. We are not to be bullied like this. We will hear and see what to do. It is a law and order problem and for the police to handle. Let me see what we can do. It someone wants to take to streets, don't come to court. We are not against peaceful demonstrations."
The CJI had also asked the lawyers to circulate their petitions while adding that the matter will be taken up on Tuesday. "But remember, we will hear this only when there is no further escalation. If protests and destruction of public properties continue, we won't hear you," he added.
Notably, three buses were set ablaze and several other vehicles vandalised as anti-citizenship law protesters, including students of Jamia Milia Islamia University, clashed with the police near New Friends Colony in South Delhi on Sunday, leaving dozens of people and several cops injured.
The police have been accused of using excessive force including lathi-charge and opening of tear gas during student protests that turned violent at the two universities on Sunday evening.
On Monday, Delhi Police said that it had used tear gas to deal with violence during the protests in Delhi on Sunday and no bullet was fired. "The police has only used tear gas to disperse the violent mob which was pelting stones and committing arson. No gunshots were fired by the police. If anybody has received gunshot injuries then we will investigate to find out who is responsible behind it," Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) South-East Delhi, Chinmoy Biswal had said.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police registered two FIRs pertaining to property damage and riots in connection with the violence that erupted during the protest against Citizenship Amendment Act in Jamia Nagar area.